Sunday, September 11, 2011

New meaning of "Piggy Bank"

Last week I delivered eggs for the One Egg Preschool Program for my first time. Please see
We drove far out on a purported road that became something less than a goat trail. I  proceeded only because I believed that others before me had driven this route for the weekly egg delivery. They had not. They had always hiked the eggs in. But my Rwandan companions who rode along with me apparently thought: “If Tom is foolish enough to try this, I wanna see it. It should be VERY exciting.” There may have also been an element of that problemsome misconception: “Muzungus [white guys] can do anything.”

Well, I TWICE drove us within a gnat’s eyelash of losing the truck over a cliff. In truth, I didn’t really drive us to the point of such peril; the truck just slid there, out of control. And yes, we ultimately got stuck and stranded for a very long time, one wheel over the edge, all to the great amusement of the villagers, some of  whom seemed to be thinking: “We haven’t had this much fun since the pig ate our little brother.” But I don’t want to tell you about the truck. I don’t want to even think about the little brother. I want to tell you about the pig:

Before I had any idea how much trouble I was in, early on this excursion I met a lady who had a pig,… a pig in a pig pen. 

As always, I asked many questions:

What do you feed this pig?  [A question only a city slicker could ask.)

Anything. Everything.

Will you butcher this pig for your family and friends to eat? [I knew that lack of refrigeration required that the entire pig be consumed within a day or two, and that no single family would enjoy this much meat in an entire year. Thus, I included “friends” in my question.]

No, of course not. I will sell it.

How much did you pay for it as a piglet?

15,000 Rwandan francs. [$25]

How much will you sell it for?

It depends on how big it is.

If you were to sell it right now, much could you get?

30,000 Rwf  [$50]

How much could you get for it if it grew to an enormous size?

150,000 to 200,000 Rwf [$250 – $333]

How long will you keep it before you sell it?

It depends.

What does it depend on? When will you sell it?

We will keep and grow the pig until we have a problem that requires us to sell it.

[Then I understood the true meaning of the term “piggy bank”: Wilbur, here, is quite literally a piggy bank, the embodiment of the family’s financial security and safety net. When a family problem requires a major “bank withdrawal,” this little piggy goes to market. “Family problems” are a certainty: School fees now due; low crop yield; injury or illness. The entire financial security of the family eats and sleeps outside in a pigpen.] 

And now I know how pigs CAN fly!